Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. Usually managed by local councils for the enjoyment of the general public, rail trails can be used for a range of purposes including walking, cycling and horse riding. There are over 100 rail trails in Australia. Celebrated and popular trails include the Murray to Mountains in Victoria and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail – but there are many more. Resources, maps, links and tips can be found at the Rail Trails Australia website.
Unfortunately, legislation has limited the delivery of trails in NSW. We are missing out on tourism, mobility and recreation opportunities while other states have reaped the rewards.
There is great news! Following a campaign by Bicycle NSW and fellow active transport advocates, the NSW Legislative Assembly debated, amended and passed the Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2022. The Bill was then approved by the Legislative Council on 12th August 2022. This amendment removes the need for each rail trail proposal to have a separate act of parliament and enables the Minister for Regional Transport to allow derelict tracks to be converted into a rail trail for ‘recreation, tourism or related purposes’.
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail opened in March 2023 and traverses 24km of stunning countryside. The 21km Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trial opened in 2020 and has attracted over 50,000 riders to a sleepy corner of the Snowy Mountains. We look forward to many more projects getting underway soon!